Recycling Survey, Part 3: Recycling "On-the-Go"

VCS Recycling Initiative brought recycling containers to the Steamship Authority

by DAVID NASH

One of the more difficult situations (well, maybe inconvenient is a better word for some) is what we will call recycling “on the go.” During a typical day, many of us generate trash that either ends up going home with us or is discarded at a store or town trash or recycling container. (One additional way this is handled by some people is to just toss it out the window and this is becoming an increasingly obvious problem on the Vineyard). Here on MV Island, the huge number of seasonal visitors compounds that problem. Convenience stores, specialty food stores, take out establishments, and the frenzied vacation lifestyle contribute to a recycling and trash management situation that requires some thought and effort to solve. Many of the businesses that sell these quickly consumed and disposable items provide opportunity for recycling especially where on-site consumption occurs. Katama General Store maintains a recycling station where customers can discard their waste according to type. The Net Result, Morning Glory Farm and many, many other businesses provide recycling containers. Sometimes the opportunities are limited or the waste stream so diverse that customers just don’t seem to be able to

handle separation. A business owner is faced with a difficult maintenance effort if customers (for whatever the reason) simply could not manage to separate the lobster shells from the soda can. There are probably no easy fixes for many of these situations but that shouldn’t be a reason to not provide for recycling. Some of our towns don’t provide recycling containers on their streets. Sure, maybe the streets are already crowded and the extra cost to pick-up the recyclables would be an issue but innovative solutions are out there. Tisbury and Oak Bluffs have new high-tech solar powered compactors and recyclables collectors which should serve to reduce costs of pick-up significantly.

VCS approached the Steamship Authority a few years ago asking if they could consider providing recycling services. We even included an offer to pay for the containers thanks to a donation made by one of the people who promoted recycling on Martha’s Vineyard, Nellie Mendenhall. The SSA was most willing to see what they could do and it took considerable effort to sort through issues involving their waste contracts, union issues, design issues, location decisions, but once the decision was made to promote recycling, the issues were resolved and now we have recycling containers at SSA terminals and on the boats as well.

One potential way that recycling could be enhanced island-wide would be the adoption of mandatory recycling requirements by all of our towns. Probably not a real popular approach but by making the requirement mandatory, enforcement against any person or business disposing of trash containing unacceptable amounts of recyclables would be an option. While businesses still couldn’t do anything about the customer who doesn’t cooperate at least a requirement that businesses make recycling containers available would represent an improvement.

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